Laws are tricky, because they're all a matter of phrasing. Ideally, they protect us from our fellow citizens by using the least restrictive language possible so as not to impede anyone's rights. But sometimes we err too much on the side of caution and end up leaving loopholes big enough to drive a monster truck through.
#5. You Can Totally Stuff a Dead Body With Newspaper
When the family of the late Kendrick Johnson ordered a second autopsy to try to get to the bottom of his mysterious death, they discovered that the funeral home had removed most of his organs and stuffed his body with newspaper, because apparently they were planning on using him as a Halloween decoration. Had they waited another month or two to call for the second autopsy, Kendrick's body might well have been filled with candy.
Which would still taste better than candy corn.
However, according to standard embalming procedures, bodies are supposed to be dried and filled with a mixture of sawdust or cotton and some hardening powder. Because those guidelines do not explicitly state "Don't inflate the corpse with Parade magazine like you are using it to mail an old Walkman you just sold on eBay," what the funeral home did to Johnson's body was not against the law.
#4. Having a Gun Range in Your Backyard Is Fine in Florida
When shots rang out suddenly one Wednesday afternoon in Doug Varrieur's suburban Florida Keys neighborhood, people assumed they were hearing a carjacking or some kind of gangland assassination. In reality, Varrieur had set up a makeshift shooting range in his backyard and was merely blasting some cans into smithereens, because this is Florida, and Florida is apparently a Twilight Zone vision of what the Wild West would have looked like on Mars.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"If you have an easier way to open my lunch, I'd like to hear it."
You see, in Florida, it's perfectly legal for Varrieur to light up his backyard with small arms fire, just as long as he doesn't toss any bullets over an occupied house or a public street. Because it's not like any of those things could ever happen by accident while discharging a firearm in the middle of a neighborhood.
#3. You Can Text People Unwanted Photos of Your Penis in Georgia
Charles Lee Warren was all set to do a triple-year stint in prison for texting unsolicited pictures of his dingle-bingle to random women, which, according to professional news outlets, was tattooed with the phrase "STRONG E nuf 4 A MAN BUT Made 4 A WOMAN," suggesting that Warren is as much a champion of grammar as he is of women's lib. We're also left to wonder whether he got the tattoo in really tiny font or if it just wraps around his underpants log like a barbershop pole.
"Do it in Helvetica or Rockwell. I want this to be timeless."
However, luckily for Chuck the penis-texter, Georgia's laws on the distribution of illicit material were created back in the 1970s, and as such they don't cover the transmission of unwanted digital pornography, only physical media. So feel free to send all the dong shots you want, Georgia -- legally, nobody can stop you.
#2. In Texas, You Can Be Pervy as Shit to Minors
Varsity-level pervert and all-around horrible middle school teacher Sean Williams got caught sending explicit texts to a 13-year-old student, including semi-nude pictures of himself and detailed descriptions of his sexual fantasies. Normally, the only question here would be "How quickly did he go to jail?" but in the state of Texas, his fantastically predacious messages are considered free speech. That's right -- as long as you don't specifically solicit a minor for sex, you can pretty much send them whatever the hell messages you want.
Even his Words With Friends entries were illegal in 37 states.
Even Williams' defense attorney, a man successfully tasked with keeping Williams out of prison, thinks the law is bullshit, and goes on to say, "It's gonna be subject to someone being terminated. I guess they could be sued conceivably in a civil action." So basically, the man's own lawyer is telling everyone, "Yeah, he should probably lose his job, and hell, you could probably even sue him," before delivering the most animated wink in recorded history.
#1. Schools Can Beat Their Students in Nearly Half of the States of the Union
Right now, in the year 2014, corporal punishment in schools is still legal in 20 states across America, because in countless centuries of existence we have come up with no better solution to dealing with unruly children than beating the shit out of them. In fact, Kansas just introduced a bill that would expand their pro-spanking laws to allow parents and teachers to batter the children in their care to the point of leaving bruises without fear of being arrested for child abuse, despite the fact that this is one of the literal definitions of the term.
"We're just toughening them up for when we legalize Battle Royale."